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Tax Time: Five Simple Form 1099 Tips to Avoid Penalties

February 7, 2017 1:51 am

Many business owners hire independent contractors at some point. Whether you have several contractors working for you regularly, or just bring one on from time-to-time, properly tracking payments to service providers can be a challenge. The following Form 1099-MISC preparation tips, offered by The American Payroll Association, can ensure your tax reporting is correct for 2016.

Form 1099-MISC must be given to all non-corporate service providers. If you paid a service provider at least $600 for services during 2016, you must provide a 1099-MISC to them no later than January 31, 2017. If the provider is a corporation you generally do not have to provide Form 1099-MISC.

Cover all of your bases. If you are unsure whether a Form 1099-MISC is required, go-ahead and send one. If you don't send all qualified service providers their Form 1099-MISC, you set yourself up for penalties.

Deadlines Matter. If you're sending Forms 1099-MISC to service providers by mail, make sure to send them out no later than January 31, 2017. New for 2017!! If your Forms 1099-MISC include an amount in Box 7, Nonemployee Compensation, you have until January 31, 2017 to send paper copies to the IRS (less than 250 forms) or file electronically. If there is nothing in Box 7, February 28 is the last day to submit paper copies to the IRS (March 31 if you file the forms electronically).

TIN truncation. Payees' Tax Identification Numbers (Social Security number or employer identification number) may be truncated on their paper or electronic copies, but forms filed with the IRS must contain their full TINs. Under the truncation procedure, the first five digits are replaced with either asterisks or Xs: ***-**-1234 or XXX-XX-1234.

Let your credit card handle the paperwork. If you paid for contractor services with a credit card, debit card, or gift card, do not file the Form 1099-MISC. The bank or credit card company that made the actual payment will take care of it for you by sending the contractor Form 1099-K.Source: www.americanpayroll.org

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3 Diet Tips for Fighting Heart Disease

February 7, 2017 1:51 am

Diet impacts a variety of general health and wellness issues, but for those at risk of heart disease, diet is integral. With this in mind, USA Medical offers the following diet tips from the American Diabetes Association, whose community has a higher risk of heart disease:

Limit sodium intake. Excessive sodium in a diet increases the risk for heart disease. The federal daily recommendation allows up to 2,300 milligrams of sodium intake, but those with high blood pressure should drop their consumption to under 1,500 milligrams. Beware of restaurant meals and packaged foods that are often dangerously high in salt.

Eliminate trans fats and limit saturated fat. Avoid red meats high in saturated fat such as lamb, beef and venison, and meats high in sodium such as bacon and ham. New York City registered dietitian Willow Jarosh explains that trans fats are "especially bad because too much can lower your HDL ['good'] cholesterol and raise your LDL—a double whammy to your heart health."

Maintain the correct balance and portions of a heart-healthy diet. Make fresh fruits and vegetables staples of your meals. Focus on eating mono- and polyunsaturated fats. Include tofu, beans, fish and lean meats for protein, and whole grains for nutritious carbohydrates. Fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables such as asparagus and broccoli; don't make meat the main course of any meal.
Source: USA Medical

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How to Maintain Marble Floors

February 7, 2017 1:51 am

(Family Features)--Veins of color and unique patterns give marble tile a truly stunning appearance. However, maintaining that elegance may seem anything but effortless.

Common advice cautions against using vinegar, bleach, ammonia or other general-purpose cleaners, while taking care to prevent scratches from the wheels of an old vacuum or basic sand and dirt is paramount. With all these rules, it may seem impractical to care for a marble floor, but once you understand the basics, it’s actually quite simple.

Know the difference between etches and stains. “Marble is porous and can stain when it absorbs liquids,” says Jacqueline Tabbah, vice president of the family-owned stone restoration company International Stoneworks in Houston.

Stains can discolor marble and have a dark appearance; they are oftentimes caused by kitchen grease or makeup and lotions.

An etch mark is a chemical corrosion of the surface layer of the stone caused by the acids found in most household cleaners and in substances like tomato sauce, lemon juice and alcohol. Etch marks are often most visible at an angle, when they appear duller and less shiny than the surrounding surface.

If a spot is lighter than the surrounding stone, it’s most likely an etch mark. If a spot is darker than the surrounding stone, it’s probably a stain.

To remove stains, use a poultice, which you can buy at a hardware store. Spread it on the stain then cover the area with plastic wrap, holding it down with painter’s tape. The next day, remove the plastic, allow the poultice to dry completely and gently wipe it up. If the stain is still there but noticeably lighter, repeat the procedure. If it’s just as bad as it was, it will only come out with the help of a professional restorer. Etch marks can usually be prevented by wiping up spills immediately and using the right cleaners.

Be careful what you use to clean. Acids are the main enemy of calcitic marbles. Avoid cleaners containing vinegar or citrus, as well as abrasive powders and creams, which can scratch softer stones. Strong household cleaners like toilet bowl cleaner, metal cleaner or oven cleaners can cause irreparable etching or permanent color changes in stone.

Tabbah recommends a cleaner with a pH level of at least 7 or 8, or buying one that specifically mentions marble.

Mop carefully. “A microfiber mop is the main line of defense for your marble floor,” says Tom Workman, owner of Floor Cleaning Experts, a Florida company that cleans and restores commercial and residential floors.

A dry microfiber mop draws in dry hair and dirt. For deeper cleaning, saturate the mop with water. The thin microfibers have tiny triangular wedges that lift grease and oil as the mop glides across the floor. The small amount of water won’t stain your marble.

Soften water in showers. “If you have hard water, a water softener is a must,” Workman says.

Mineral deposits build up slowly but surely, requiring professional honing and polishing to remove. If you don’t use a water softener, leave the vent fan on after showering and squeegee the walls after use.

Use a doormat. Place a mat outside your front door and another mat or rug inside. They’ll absorb dirt and sand before it gets to your marble floors.

Source: naturalstoneinstitute.org/consumers/care.

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Save Energy This Winter

February 6, 2017 1:51 am

Regardless of how cool or warm you like your home to feel, you probably like to save on heating bills.  Below are a handful of simple tips you can use to save energy and money this winter, courtesy of the Florida Power & Light Company.

Start at 68 – If you need to heat your home, set your thermostat to 68 degrees with the fan set to "auto" and be sure to turn off your heat when you leave. Every degree below 68 saves you five percent on heating costs.

Check your filters – Clean or replace your air conditioner filter regularly (approximately each month) to help your unit operate more efficiently.

Keep warm air in – Seal doors and windows with weatherstripping or caulk, which helps prevent warm air from leaking out.

Harness the sun – Make sure your south-facing windows are clean and open those curtains during the day to heat your home with the sun.

Lower your water heater temperature – Set your water heater temperature at 115 to 120 degrees to conserve energy. Shortening your showers helps, too!

Source: FPL.com/wintertips.

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How is Your Financial Fitness?

February 6, 2017 1:51 am

The gym isn’t the only area you can work on your fitness. How about your finances? The following financial wellness tips, courtesy of CFP, can help you save more, all year long.

Create a budget: Creating a budget is a simple way to determine how best to spend your money. Start by reconciling last year's expenditures and creating a list of necessary payments. Giving yourself a "cheap month," such as spending $100 a week, can help define your needs. In addition, working with your spouse or partner can help identify a realistic budget and prevent overspending.

Put yourself first: Spending too much on adult children, parents and other family members can jeopardize your long-term financial situation. Having children live within a budget will force more careful spending while teaching a valuable lesson. For adult dependents, spend carefully; you can't take care of others if you haven't taken care of yourself.

Maximize benefits: Take full advantage of your existing benefits package, such as your 401(k) or retirement plan. For a 401(k), make sure to maximize your investment by matching your employer's contribution. If you operate within individual funds, rebalance your 401(k) account periodically. Establishing a dollar cost averaging arrangement – investing set amounts at regular intervals regardless of the financial climate – for a new account, such as a Roth IRA or 529 plans, can also increase your savings.

Know yourself: Many people have chronic issues of overspending or mismanaging debt. Developing smart habits can improve your finances. If you fail to prudently spend with credit cards, cut them up. If you struggle to meet basic payments, round up to the nearest whole number on larger expenses. For example, if your car payment is $375, plan on spending $400 per month.

Big or small, everyone can take steps to improve their financial well-being.  

Source: www.CFP.net  

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How to Make Your Valentine’s Flowers Last Longer

February 3, 2017 1:45 am

Fresh flowers can brighten anyone’s day – and that goes for men as well as women! Of the 110 million roses purchased each Valentine’s Day, 75 per cent are bought by men, according to Teleflora, one of the largest purveyors of fresh flowers delivered nationwide. But the number of women buying flowers for their loved ones is rising every year.

With proper care, most fresh flowers should last for seven to 10 days. So man or woman, if you receive a bouquet this February 14, revel in the fact that someone loves you – and keep those flowers looking fresh as long as possible by following these five Teleflora tips:

Feed them – That little packet of ‘life extender’ material that comes with so many delivered flowers is mostly composed of sugar. Use it if you have it. If not, add a nourishing teaspoon of sugar or an aspirin (not ibuprofen) to the vase after you fill it with water.

Water them – Fresh flowers drink a lot of water, and some are thirstier than others, so check the water level daily and keep the vase filled.

Nip the stems – Every two or three days, remove each flower and cut off an inch or so of the stem. Cut it an angle to ensure it absorbs the most water and toss out any discolored petals or buds that have fallen below the water line.

Display them in a cool spot – Cut flowers don’t like direct sunlight, so choose your display spot with that in mind.

Refresh them – After three or four days, remove the flowers, rinse the vase and refill it with room temperature water. Add sugar or an aspirin to keep bacteria from growing, and rearrange the flowers in it, discarding any blooms that have wilted.

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A Total Body Approach to a New You

February 3, 2017 1:45 am

(Family Features)--New Year’s resolutions typically focus on reactive goals like losing weight or getting back into that workout routine. However, thinking about resolutions in a more proactive, long-term way can give you more motivation and the willpower to stick with it.

A commitment to proactive total body care, including these tips from Massage Envy, can keep your body and mind tuned up, allowing you to do more of what you love in 2017 and beyond.

Feel confident by upping your skincare
Skin is an organ – the body’s largest organ, in fact. That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to it. Regular skincare can help you feel good on the outside by reversing signs of aging, improving skin tone and texture, moisturizing skin and reducing blemishes and breakouts, and better on the inside, as feeling good about how your skin looks can boost your confidence.

A daily hydrating moisturizer with SPF does double duty to protect and hydrate. Regular facials that cater to your skin’s unique needs can also help minimize wrinkles, cleanse pores, encourage skin cell renewal and improve overall tone and texture.

Live happier and stress free
The Statistic Brain Research Institute reports that 77 percent of people regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress. Spending time with friends, meditating and practicing mindfulness can help, but there are also physical ways to soothe stress. A quick walk can do wonders for clearing your head, and a single massage session can lower your heart rate and blood pressure, relax your muscles and increase the production of endorphins, your body's natural "feel good" chemical. Stress relief is one of the benefits of regular massage therapy, and a key component for anyone trying to achieve a lifestyle that gives them the freedom to do more of what they love.

Veg out on the good stuff
A healthy diet can help you maintain a healthy weight, feel good and boost your body’s immunity so you can stay well. Occasionally, indulging your sweet tooth or salty cravings is OK, but to really take care of your body, leading health-focused agencies recommend piling your plate high with colorful fruits and veggies, lean meats like chicken and fish, and whole grains.

If you started off with a commitment to eating better in the New Year, push hard to stick to it. Before long, you’ll find yourself automatically making smarter choices when it comes to mealtime, and when you put good fuel in your body, you get better results.

Source: MassageEnvy.com  

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3 Things to Say “Yes” to This Year

February 3, 2017 1:45 am

As we struggle through our day-to-day routines, it can feel like we’re stuck in a wheel of negativity. Get out of this slump by saying yes more often. Read on for three things to say “yes!” to this year.

Social time. Your coworker asks you to go to an impromptu happy hour, your childhood friend invites you to a last-minute weekend girl’s getaway, or a mother of your child’s friend invites you in for tea when you had just planned to drop your kid and run. Many of us say no to social invites that our out of our normal routine and comfort zone. But by doing so, we’re closing ourselves off to new experiences and the brain boost that comes from face-to-face time. Say yes to more social invites and you may find your life feels fuller, and more fun.

Giving time. Does your friend need help moving or organizing a charity walk? Say yes when they ask if you can pitch in. Giving back is a great way to boost your spirits, and donating your time is just as valuable as making monetary contributions. The next time you hear of an opportunity to give back, answer with a big fat yes.

Travel time. Leaving the comfort of our own home expands our view of the world and makes us feel more fulfilled. The next time you’re invited on an outing, say yes, and then figure out how you can afford it. Can you sell some of the used items sitting in your basement? Rent out an extra bedroom in your home? Do some pet sitting? Cut back a few luxuries, like that weekly manicure or daily latte? If you commit, you will find a way to make it happen. Of course, it’s important to only commit to things in reason. A long weekend at the beach that may cost $500 is doable. A cruise to Europe that will set you back $3,000? Maybe not so much.

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Experts Tap Top Anticipated Home Design Trends For 2017

February 3, 2017 1:45 am

I recently reported on a number of cool innovations being presented at the 2017 CES. But the new year also heralds predictions and previews from hundreds of sources about the top home design trends for 2017.
At housebeautiful.com, Brie Dyas is digging mixing antique with modern elements. And she is expecting to see more furnishings scaled or custom made for the space they are intended to occupy to avoid the overstuffed feeling that larger furniture pieces can bring to even large airy spaces.

Heidi Caillier who is based in Seattle tells decorist.com that designers will be promoting much more "maximalism" in 2017. Gone are the super clean, plain, unadorned rooms of the past few years, she says. Lines remain clean but prints are layered in and colors pop. More is more and it's super fun.

Caillier says designers will be seeing green in all tones popping up in small doses such as in accessories and objets and also in larger upholstered pieces.

Kelsey Kloss, writing for elledecor.com, also says cheery shades of green will be everywhere around the home in 2017 as Pantone's Color Of The Year, "Greenery" takes center stage on the design palette representing refreshment and revitalization. She also predicts butterfly motifs - symbolizing grace and optimism - showing up all around the home this year.

Vogue's Monique Valeris syas weaving texture into interior designs will make spaces more inviting as the idea of mixing fabrics and materials will be on the rise. And her sources say that the new year will include an emphasis on uniquely crafted furniture, quirky lighting fixtures, and the natural clean combination of marble and brass will be popping up in both kitchens and baths in 2017.

And finally, Mitchell Parker of the Houzz editorial staff says laundry rooms in particular are seeing more love. Design tricks to bring in more light, smarter storage and better function resonate with homeowners who realize that since they spend a lot of time doing laundry.

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How to Enhance Your Outdoor Living Space

February 3, 2017 1:45 am

(Family Features)--No matter the season or the region, outdoor living is more popular than ever, as homeowners look to "bring the indoors out" and create spaces that are true extensions of the home. The newest designs in outdoor living spaces do not simply feature the look of the indoors, but the functionality as well.

"Advances in all-weather materials have made it possible for homeowners to enjoy more and more of their favorite activities outside," says Adam Zambanini, vice president of marketing for Trex Company. "The movement toward 'outdoor rooms' has evolved into fully functional outdoor kitchens and entertainment centers that make it even more difficult to determine where the indoors end and the outdoors begin."

Regardless of the size of your deck – or budget – these simple tips from the experts at Trex can add interior function to your outdoor oasis:

Absolute Al Fresco
While grilling and al fresco dining are longtime hallmarks of backyard entertaining, outdoor kitchens are now finally living up to their name. From storing seat cushions to keeping drinks cold, today's outdoor kitchen accessories can make outdoor spaces look as put-together as the rest of the home.

Railing Redefined
Even railings have taken on a more functional role in today's backyards. One of the most popular trends is "cocktail railing," which provides a flat surface for drinks and plates. By using a matching deck board to create a shelf for the top rail, you can achieve a look that complements your home's deck, while making great use of space.

Lights, Please
Lighting is another "bright" idea for adding versatility to the outdoors. Lighting systems that incorporate deck lighting and other exterior lighting work together to create ambiance that can be adjusted for any setting. By choosing which outdoor elements to highlight, it's easy to change the look of an outdoor living space without moving any furniture.

Connection Protection
The idea of enjoying a favorite show or movie outdoors has always been enticing, but not exactly practical. However, with advancements in both equipment and equipment storage, enjoying the big screen experience in the great outdoors has never been easier. Electronics manufacturers now offer televisions and entertainment equipment specifically designed for the outdoors, taking into consideration differences in lighting and outdoor acoustics. Meanwhile, storage options now include durable, wall-mounted television and entertainment centers that beautifully conceal and protect pricey electronics from the elements.

Material Matters
Just because people are spending more time on their decks doesn't mean they're willing to put in extra hours for maintenance. Wood alternatives, particularly wood-plastic composites, are especially popular due to their low-maintenance features. Unlike wood, composite decking resists fading, staining, scratching and mold – and won't rot, warp, crack or splinter. No sanding, staining or painting is required, and food and drink spills wash off easily with soap and water. The latest generation of composite decking also features wood-grain patterns and rich, saturated colors that look and feel more natural than ever before.

Source: trex.com

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